MANGOCHI, January 22, 2019: Traditional Authority (TA) Sultan Chowe of Mangochi has challenged the forestry department and chiefs in the district to keep deforestation in check by employing strict measures against wanton cutting down of trees.

Chowe made the call on Saturday when he joined the youth in the area in tree planting exercise at Namizimu Forest.

He alleged that some officers from the department of forestry and some chiefs were receiving kickbacks to allow some people destroy the forests in the district to produce timber and charcoal.

“We are glad that we have the District Forestry Officer (DFO) here,” said Chowe turning to the DFO, Leonard Kamangadazi, “Some of your officers connive with some people to cut trees in the forest after receiving a bribe. This is a very bad act and it has to stop.”

Turning to chiefs, Chowe said, “Some of you chiefs present here have also contributed to the depletion of our forests as you allow your subjects to cut trees unnecessarily. This has to stop with immediate effect”.

The tree planting exercise was organized by the area’s youth staying in South Africa and some staying in Malawi as a social responsibility to their homeland.

The T/A, who also donated some tree seedlings to the youth group, thanked the youth for coming up with the idea of restoring the environment appealing to the communities to plant more trees in their homes so that the area should go green.

The Mangochi DFO thanked the T/A for tipping the department off on what his officers were allegedly doing pledging to do something about it.

“It is unfortunate to hear that our workers are involved in such malpractices and now that I have received this complaint, I will call for an immediate meeting to caution them on the malpractice,” said Kamangadazi.

According to the DFO, his office was expected to plant three million trees in the district during this tree planting season alone.

A representative of youth in the district who donated the seedlings and organized the whole exercise, Clement Jafali, said the youth would continue with the exercise every year because it was their wish to see their area look green at all times.

Jafali urged the youth in the country to join hands in planting more trees, describing it as everybody’s responsibility to do so.

This year’s theme for tree planting is ‘Plant and manage trees: Secure water, food and environment’.

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